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GOSPEL ENTERTAINMENT EDITION

VISIONS May 2012

CHRISTIAN MAGAZINE

OPRAH

Dove

WINFREY

Awards

Interviews

Whitney Houston’s Bobbi Kristina

WHITNEY HOUSTON

Brown

A Journey Home

Daughter

A Night of Hope Joel Osteen Nationals Park Washington DC

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EVERY DAY LIFE


ORU Campus ORU was created to educate the man as a whole: mentally, physically, and spiritually. 2

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ORU

Undergraduate

Oral Roberts University

Graduate

7777 South Lewis Avenue

International

Tulsa, Oklahoma 74171

Online

918 495-6161

College Arts & Cultural Studies

College of Science & Engineering

College of Business

College of Nursing

College of Education

College of Theology & Ministry

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Visions

Christian Magazine Chief Editor Linda C. Tardy Editors Varney Firenyka Taylor

Columnists Emmanuel Obu Sharlyn Guthrie Sarah Hearn Contributing Writers Susan Holaday Karen Rubin Marci Savage Joyce Meyer Joel Osteen Victoria Osteen Dr. Ken Matto Debra Peques Graphic design/layout Brenda Greene Linda Tardy Photographers Kevin Lucas Print Coordinator PUBLISHER Digital Online/Print

Vision House Publishers Upper Marlboro, MD 20774 www.visionhousepublishers.com, For Customer service in the US call 1877-405-5440 Visions Christian Magazine is a quarterly publication, ISSN –2167-4647 (online) copyright© April 2003.

ADVERTISE WITH US Contact Customer Services at 1877-405-5440 4

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JOIN US.. Our readers and writers are local and international. Become informed, spiritually empowered and rejuvenated. Our articles are spirit-filled and uplifting. Read exciting stories about well-known gospel artists, Christian authors and heart-felt stories that ministers peace to your soul… Explore opportunities to expand your career by visiting various Christian Universities of your choice….

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Customer Service 1877-405-5440 Email: cs@visionhousepublishers.com Linda@visionhousepublishers.com

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WHAT’S

Entertainment Gospel Edition

INSIDE

Contents May 2012

Articles

Dove

Chief Editor—Linda C Tardy

Awards

It’s Your Time

F E A T U R E S

Page 9 Enjoying Everyday Life

Sarah Hearn

By Joyce Meyer

Gospel Music Examiner

Page 37

Reports from Atlanta, GA

Tony D’Urson Builds a New Life for Others

Page 54

By Karen Rubin Page 10 Blind Escape By Emmanuel Obu

Whitney Houston

Page 28

A Journey Home

Zone 8 Street Thrug

By Sharon Guthrie

By Marci Savage Page 50 New Beginnings By Pastor Joel Osteen Page 40

Page 12

Serving the Homeless By Susan Holaday Page 53 Interview with Bobbi Kristina Brown

Page 30

Oprah Winfrey Interviews Bobbi Kristina Brown

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43rd Annual GMA

By Lauren Zima Page 32

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Gospel Entertainment

Contents

Edition NIGHT OF HOPE

JOEL OSTEEN

35

NATIONALS PARK

COVER STORY

44

48

M o r e

F E A T U R E S

WASHINGTON DC

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Digital E-books by Linda Tardy at www.visionhousepublishers.com

This book is about the meanings of all colors, foundations in heaven, banners and flag colors, attire that represent the presence of God.. A MUST READ‌. READ OTHER BOOKS BY AUTHOR LCTARDY AT WWW.VISIONHOUSE PUBLISHERS.COM

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\àËá lÉâÜ g|Åx LINDA C TARDY CHIEF EDITOR Author/Publisher Vision House Publishers Visions Christian Magazine www.visionhousepublishers.com

G

od has made everything beautiful in it’s time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men, yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end (Ecclesiastes 3:11) God’s timing is not like yours. Before he formed you in your mothers womb, and even before you were conceived he knew you. (Jeremiah 1:5) We serve a mighty God! Obviously God thinks that you are valuable. Have you ever taken time to look at the palm of your hands? God designed every fiber, line and measurement of your body. Have you noticed that God does things in pairs or two’s? There’s a planned pattern that God follows for every thing and human being he creates. What is man that thou art mindful of him? (Psalm 8:4) Those who are Architects and Engineers have developed their trade and skills, but the passion to build and design all comes from the Lord God Almighty. There are those who are appointed by God to do specific work. For example, Noah, who was a builder. Noah’s wife asked him a question, “Husband, why do you build an ark on dry land?” “When I am done, God will send the rain in his time,” replied Noah. And there was Saul, who persecuted Christians, but in God’s time, he changed Sauls name to Paul, and ordained him to be Apostle Paul, a committed Christian leader. God made Jeremiah, a prophet to the nations. What is your call or assignment in this earth? Whatever God has given you to do, do it to the glory of God! Are you feeling discouraged, frustrated, fear of learning, lack of confidence or apprehensive? Well, Jeremiah thought he was too young and inexperienced to be God’s spokesman to the nations. But God promised to be with him. Remember, God has placed inside of you every gift and talent, he is the designer of your soul. Your body was designed by God from the dust of the ground. You are appointed by God to do great things in the earth. And God said that he would never leave you nor forsake you. Whatever God gives you to do, obey his calling, he will provide the necessary resources, tools and provision to do it. God can see into your future. He can see the trouble, trials and tribulation coming. Therefore, he warns us of storms ahead. God tells us that we will have trouble in life, but he will also rescue us from the storm. God did not promise that the storm would not come. But God promised that he will walk with you through the storm. As God instructed Jeremiah, he will also instruct you. Is God speaking to your heart? In God’s timing, he instructed Jeremiah that it was time to speak to the nations. Is God telling you, “It’s Your Time?”

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Tony D' Urso builds a new life for others by Karen Rubin

T

here is a slum outside of Nairobi, Kenya, where the "road" is called "River of Shit" because that is where the people's waste flows. It is a slum so poor and desperate, that unwanted children are left beside a river bank during the monsoon, to be swept to their death. And for too many of the 1.5 million people crammed into this slum, it is the only way they will ever leave. This is where Anthony D'Urso comes twice a year from his home in Long Island to build a school, an orphanage, to hammer and saw and haul. Since retiring after 14 years as the elected North Hempstead Town Councilman and 30 years with the City of New York's Department of Housing Development Administration, he has devoted himself to three different charities, traveling thousands of miles each year at his own expense, to Haiti, Nicaragua and Kenya, building homes one at a time, and schools one classroom at a time. He works in some of the poorest neighborhoods on the planet: in Haiti, where the "improvement" is creating a tent city for children orphaned by the earthquake; in villages in Nicaragua where people live in leaky shacks of scraps of sheet metal and discarded lumber and even the homes of cinderblock that he builds do not have running water or electricity; and in Kibera outside of Nairobi, where the life expectancy is among the lowest on earth and half of the deaths are from AIDS, leaving scores of orphans, many of whom are born with HIV. With each stroke of the hammer, cut of a saw and haul of a cinder block, he is opening a path and creating the possibility of making a better life, instead of being trapped in the circumstance of their birth.

He is driven by this nagging question: "I can't understand why the children have to live this way. What did they do to deserve to live in this structural poverty that no matter what they do, they won't get out?" When he retired, he decided to do something about it. "When I was retiring, I was thinking about what to do for the rest of my healthy life. 10

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"I never had a lot of money. I don’t know what it is to have money. I wanted to do something I always wanted to do and had always done, but in small way – I was involved with Habitat for Humanity, helping build a few houses, made regular contributions to Save the Children, Boys Towns, Smile Train. But now, I wanted to give more of myself." Now, he travels twice year to Masaya, Nicaragua with Bridges to Community, personally sponsoring the building of two houses a year. These are simple cement block houses, all of them conforming to a similar style to withstand earthquakes, but are a big improvement over what the people live in now: ramshackle shacks of scrap metal and lumber that flood when it rains, with no electricity or running water, cooking outside, a latrine. He was going back and forth to Nicaragua - he completed his 11th trip this past November - when he learned about the program to help the people in Kibera, a slum outside Nairobi, Kenya. Some 1.5 million destitute people are crammed into an area the size of Central Park, paying rent to a landlord for the privilege of living in a dilapidated shack without water or electricity, where people throw their waste into the street so a river of waste flows down the middle of the dirt road. "The outside doesn’t know what happens inside the slums and inside, they don’t know what happens outside the slums." Now he makes two trips a year - on January 1 and July 4 - spending two weeks at a time (and three days traveling). He travels with a group of about eight people, and always comes with presents for the children. On our visit to his home in Port Washington, he was preparing to travel again. Whereas the project in Nicaragua is more about families, the work in Kenya is more about rescuing children literally. "Kibera has one of the lowest life expectancies in Africa (49), the mortality rate due to AIDS is 50%. A lot of the kids being rescued are orphaned because their parents died from AIDS. Many are born HIV positive. Children are abandoned and left to die. "There is a little river not far from the slum and most of the year it is dry, but when the monsoon comes, it swells up and sweeps away everything. Children are placed there so they will be swept away." A local woman who is a product of the slums, has dedicated her life to creating a school there for first to sixth grade. Her mission was expanded after she picked up two children - one was eight months, the other about 18 months - who were left at the river to die and the government refused to help unless she adopted them. And so she has adopted them and many others, since. Cross Cultural Thresholds, the group Tony works with, has supported her mission, physically building an orphanage which includes a school, and sustaining it by raising the funds to pay the teacher's salary ($2700 a year) and the cost of a nutrition program which provides the children with three meals a day. D'Urso's group is building a nursery school now. But the group has a more ambitious plan for a third school, Face and a Future, a high school that will be built outside the slum itself, to open these young people to what might be possible. "We want to bring them outside the slums. If we get a child at age 2 for nursery up to six, then to elementary school, then for four years in high school, now we have structured a person with education and a different view from a person who grows up in the slum and never gets that outside view. This will give them a profession, so they can go outside the slum and market themselves."

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D'Urso's work in Haiti is connected to a faith-based organization, Croatian Relief Services, which initially was involved in Croatian relief during Bosnia-Kosovo conflict, but once that area stabilized, turned its attention to helping Haitians in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake. Much of his work in Haiti involves creating an orphanage for children who lost their family in the earthquake. They funded a lunch program and medical assistance. The orphanage now consists of tents; their plan is to build a school on two acres, using the rubble from the earthquake to elevate the structure against future flooding. Escaping the Bonds of Birth The common thread among the three different charitable enterprises is providing that something that breaks the bonds of poverty and despair. Tony D'Urso knows what it is to feel trapped by your condition, in a culture that accepts that you are what you are, and what it means to escape to a place where there is opportunity to fulfill your potential. He grew up in Formia, a small town in Latina area of Italy, between Rome and Naples, where his lot in life was to be a laborer, and where the idea of pursuing education beyond fifth grade was out of reach.

He spent his teen years as a laborer on construction sites and apprenticed as a mason. "They would put stones heavier than my body weight on my shoulder, and I would get on a ladder and carry the stone up the scaffold. I cursed every day. I worked hard because I had to.. I knew I had to get out of Italy." The United States allowed Italy had a scant few thousands visas, but France had 10 times that amount and most weren't used. Tony's parents, as it happened, were both born in France Their fortuitous birth provided Tony with an out. But in order to take advantage of the visas, he had to emigrate before his 21st birthday. Just a couple of months shy of turning 21, and with his father's blessing, he arrived in Long Island City on March 24, 1960 with two bags. He landed on the doorstep of an acquaintance who used to be a custodian in Italy, who had come three years earlier, with whom he corresponded. He had hoped to share the furnished apartment, paying $7 a week rent. He had $14 in his pocket at the time and spoke no English. D'Urso got a job doing construction, and enrolled in "English for Immigrants," studying for two years, then attended night school at Brooklyn Tech, finally earning his high school diploma after six years, in 1971. He was earning $44 a week, often working at two jobs dishwashing, furniture making and construction, and sending back half to his family in Italy. Then he got double pneumonia, and when he could not pay the hospital bill, was threatened with deportation. A doctor at St John's Hospital worked out an arrangement where he could repay the bill at $20 a week, and for the next three years, he made regular trips to drop off the money, even after the hospital relocated. Armed with his high school diploma, he landed a civil service position with the City of New York's Department of Housing Development Administration, in 1971. He pursued higher education at the New York Technical College, graduating in 1975 with an AAS degree, then earned a Bachelor of Science from Pratt Institute School of Architecture in 1979. He did not stop there, but went on to earn a Master of Science at Pratt Institute in 1983. 12

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After 17 years of night school, of a routine of getting up for work at 5 am, leaving work and going to school until 10:40 pm, and finally coming home at 11:30 pm only to repeat the whole process again the next day, he was finally done. The whirlwind of work and study probably obscured the fact that he had surpassed what he could only dream of as a boy. Tony advanced through the ranks in the City department. He was promoted from senior building construction estimator to general supervisor of building construction, to director of operations for the Division of Design and Construction. In 1995 he was promoted to assistant commissioner of the Office of Architecture Engineering and Construction, putting him in charge of a technical staff of 300 and an annual capital budget of $500 million. When he retired after 30-years as a housing official, he was Deputy Commissioner. Even as a boy in Italy, D'Urso had a penchant for politics, and his life here afforded him the opportunity to pursue that interest, as well. He served as committeeman, zone leader, and in 1991 he was elected North Hempstead Town Councilman, serving 14 years. At this point, fully retired, he could have simply enjoyed the good life. Instead, Tony sold off the property he inherited from his father in Italy and other property, sold his house and scaled down, and has been using his cash to focus and expand on his charitable work. Last year, he spent $14,000 on travel, alone. It is the way he has lived his life. "I would tells my children when they were growing up that a certain amount of money has to be given to charity. I used to take them Sunday mornings to St. Francis Hospital with a Sons of Italy program – to visit needy children who were there for open heart surgery. Out of 32 children we sponsored, we only lost one. I would tell my children, 'How lucky you are.' We would bring cold cuts and bread to the parents – and we worked out a deal with a motel to house them while their children were in the hospital. This was the way he was raised, as well. His father may not have appreciated the value of education to uplift his son, but he modeled heroism in the cause of righteousness. He says, "I have three birthdays in my life, August 3 1939, when I was born; March 24, 1960 when I arrived in the United States, and September 8, 1943. "I don’t remember anything before September 8, 1943," he says. "Americans came with airplanes, flares, turning the night bright like a sunny day at night. They dropped leaflets telling us to get out, they would bomb the city. Our family left and went over the mountain. We stayed 10-11 months. During that time, my father was busy. He had worked for a Jewish family – Ascarelli – whose main residence was Naples. They were in the textile industry and owned farms in a beach resort. My father worked there. Nazis were looking for Jews to take back to slave labor camps. My father hid them in the mountains – they would hide during the day and move at night, always moving, because someone would have sold them out." For eight months, his father was away from their family, trying to protect the Ascarellis. "Then, one day, Moroccans who were fighting for the Germans, caught up with them. My father used his French to convince them they were French." Remembering the Past to Build the Future D'Urso says that remembering his background, where he came from, has shaped what he does now. But others have taken a different view.

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"There are people who came poor like me to the United States but became super conservatives - as if they built a castle with a moat and lifted the drawbridge. They don't like illegal immigrants. But I know that if I didn't find a way to come here legally, I would have come illegally." Similarly, his up-from-his-own-bootstraps success has caused him to devote himself to charitable giving, rather than stand aside and let those in need make it on their own, if they have the ability and the luck. The desire to help others, he says, "was always there, the fire under the ashes… When I retired, I wanted to do more. I feel good about it… I never had much money, but I know that when you die, the suit you are buried in has no pockets, because you can’t take it with you. People get too involved with materialistic society. If I had a Lexus instead of a Camry, I couldn’t do this." His wife, Maria, sacrifices, too - not just the material things, but also the weeks away that Tony spends traveling. It is her gift to him that she supports him knowing how important it is to him. "I want my epitaph to say 'He tried to make a more just world.'" Tony says. "In a small way, I’m contributing to that, like a pebble on the beach… There are some kids that directly or indirectly will have a better future, a better life, maybe if I help change their expectations of life. I had no expectations growing up. You think 'toys for Christmas/. What toys? We had no expectation whatsoever." In many ways, Tony D'Urso has come full circle - the young boy who wanted to escape his lot as a construction laborer, is laboring to construct houses, schools, and paths to a new life for other children who have done nothing to deserve the miserable lot in life they were born to, and who, without people like Tony, would have no way of breaking the cycle of structural poverty. For more information about contributing to these charitable causes, email durso1939@yahoo.com. ________________________________ © 2011 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com or email krubin723@aol.com.

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T ]ÉâÜÇxç [ÉÅx by Sharlyn Guthrie

F

ame

Like a multi-faceted prism, Whitney Elizabeth Houston took her place in the window of the world soon after graduating from high school. In her debut television performance of “Home” she sparkled; she shone. The many and varied facets of Whitney Houston’s life have been widely hailed and highly scrutinized. It is not my intent to write yet another biography, to idolize her, or to expose her shortcomings. Instead, I hope to more intimately acquaint you with the Light that glistened through Whitney’s life and music, the Light that shines eternal. “When I think of home I think of a place where there’s love overflowing; I wish I was home, I wish I was back there…” she sang on the Merv Griffin Show that evening in 1985. Whitney’s first publicized song and many of its lyrics are especially poignant now, just days after her death. “You won’t forget that name –Whitney Houston,” Merv Griffin quipped as the crowd’s emphatic applause subsided following her performance; and now, more than two decades later, his prediction stands true. That same year Arista Records released her first album entitled simply Whitney Houston. That album soared to the top of the charts, where it remained for 14 consecutive weeks. It was also the first album by a

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female artist to net three number one single hits. A year later Whitney Houston was named the number one artist of the year, and the album Whitney Houston became the number one album of the year. Her name and her fame continued to spread across the country and the continents. Whitney’s extraordinary beauty was noticed even before her musical debut. A striking cover girl for Seventeen, she also appeared in Glamour and Cosmopolitan. Naturally lean and tall (5’8”), she was an enchanting blend of African American, Scottish, Dutch, and Native American ethnicity. Her musical success continued to swell, even as her acting career was launched in 1992 with the release of The Bodyguard. Throughout the 90’s several more movies followed, and Whitney’s fame and world-wide acclaim mounted. Whitney’s awards and achievements were numerous: 22 American Music Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, 2 Emmys, 6 Grammys, 16 NAACP Image Awards, 6 People’s Choice Awards, and 99 RIIA Awards. In all, she was nominated for 562 awards, of which she won 415. Her successes are impressive by any standards. Following one of her earliest appearances on the Oprah Show, Oprah fondly dubbed Whitney Houston “The Voice.” Whitney’s voice was indeed a unique gift, recognized early and carefully cultivated by her mother, Cissy Houston -herself an accomplished vocalist. More impressive than the quality of Whitney’s voice, however, is what she emanated as she sang –the emotion she drew up from the depths of her listeners’ souls. That is what distinguished her from other artists. Simply scanning through the titles of her greatest hits stirs longforgotten feelings and resurrects that incomparable voice. The light shone brightest when she sang. But as other less stellar aspects of Whitney’s life became known, her physical appearance, her performance, and even her voice began to falter.

T

ragic Turn

Bobby Brown was the love of Whitney’s life even though many felt his influence was the root of her troubles. On September 14, 2009, following the end of their tumultuous marriage, Whitney granted Oprah a highly personal and widely publicized interview. It was then that she reflected on the gift that was her voice. “You were not like any of the others,” Oprah said. “You really were given the voice. You were given that treasure. And people felt, how could you not know that that was to be treasured?” Whitney replied, “I knew in the days when I was a teenager singing for God. I was so sure. When I became "Whitney Houston" and all this other stuff happened, my life became the world's.” Ironically, the window of the world that allowed us all to view and admire Whitney’s God-given treasure may have been the very thing that got in the way of the light. I can’t help but recall here the words Pastor Winans delivered as part of his eulogy, “The things we have are God’s gift to us. The way we live is our gift to God.” In spite of her incomparable voice and unsurpassed success, Whitney made some unfortunate choices and ventured into the dark realms of substance abuse. Although some might be tempted to point Rev. Winan’s words backward at Whitney’s life struggles, they were in reality intended as cautionary words for us. Our lives may never become as public as Whitney’s, but we are all called to live transparent before the world, allowing the light of God’s love to reflect His beauty. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 ASV) For Whitney, as for all of us, the light continued to shine; she just stepped out into the darkness. 16

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for all of us, the light continued to shine; she just stepped out into the darkness.

L

ove For Jesus

While it now seems ironic that Whitney’s first widely publicized performance was “Home,” it seems totally appropriate that her last public performance was “Jesus Loves Me,” an oft’ repeated theme throughout her life. Oprah asked Whitney in 2009, “Who do you love?” Without hesitation Whitney replied, “I love the Lord. I do. I'm so humbled and so thankful by his grace, his goodness, and for never giving up on me. I love my mother, my daughter, my relatives, my sisters, my brothers. I love you. Because I knew somewhere in the background you were there praying, too.” Actor and director Tyler Perry, who was also Whitney’s close friend and confidant spoke these words at her homegoing, “There are two constants that I know about Whitney Houston: There was a grace that carried her from heaven down through Miss Cissy Houston, a grace that brought her up through singing. There was a grace that kept on carrying her all the way through. The other thing I know for sure, and this is more important than anything that she’s ever done in her life -Whitney Houston loved the Lord.” Tyler referenced Romans 8:38-39, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” He also revealed that on several occasions as Whitney was sharing with him some of her difficulties -some things with which she was struggling at the time, he would be ready to step in to encourage her, and before he could speak a word she would say, “…but my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and his amazing grace…” “I know she loved the Lord,” Tyler went on to say, “and if it was grace that carried her all the way through, it was that same grace that carried her home.” Clearly, Whitney Houston’s love for Jesus is what grounded her, both in her best and worst of times.

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Ch

ild-like Faith

Jesus said, during his ministry on this earth, “…unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) Whitney exhibited a simple, childlike faith throughout her lifetime. She never doubted the love her parents showered upon her. Her childhood roots –her family, church, and community –grounded her. When life became messy or complicated Whitney could always go home. Home was a place of peace, love and acceptance. Whitney held onto the basic premise that God loved her, no matter what. It is no coincidence that the lyrics of the simplest of children’s songs, “Jesus Loves Me, this I know,” are the words that brought her joy and comfort, even in the hours before her death. Those words, more than any others, took her back to the basic simplicity of childhood and the blessed assurance of God’s unconditional love.

H

umility

Humility is not typically associated with superstardom. Yet these were the private questions Whitney often entertained in her own mind, throughout and despite her outstanding success: Was I good enough? Could I have been better? Do they like me? Some have labeled these questions doubts and insecurities, but they may more aptly be viewed as humility –an out dated virtue in the eyes of the world, and a constant theme throughout Scripture. Humility is achieved when I see God for who He is beholding me as I am. In a very real sense the love of Jesus is meaningless unless coupled with the truth of our unloveliness. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The words found in Romans 5:8 give us good reason to be humble, offering a balanced view of our unworthiness in light of God’s love. There is much evidence of Whitney’s humble spirit, despite her tremendous fame and fortune. Diane Forden, fashion editor of Seventeen, who worked with Whitney during her modeling career, had this to say about her, “She was very dedicated and very diligent… she was a kind person too. Very loving and very considerate of other people. She was never, ever a diva.” From the world’s perspective she had every right to be a diva, and yet she maintained a level of humility throughout her life and career. Record mogul Clive Davis, who shaped and guided Houston’s career, spoke of her humility at her recent homegoing service adding, "Purely and simply, she was one of a kind. Yes, she admitted to the crazies and to Oprah her searing battles, but when I needed her, she was there for me. She was an eternally loyal friend."

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"As popular and powerful as she was, she was so brilliantly liberal in her generosity with others," said Kim Burrell, a Gospel singer who enjoyed a longtime friendship with Whitney, and one who also spoke at Whitney’s service.

W

eakness

Sometimes the line between humility and self-doubt is vague and perplexing, but part of humility is recognizing and coming to grips with one’s weakness. “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” These are Paul’s words in II Corinthians 12:10. It may be presumptuous to claim that all of our weaknesses are “for Christ’s sake” in the same sense that Paul experienced them. Still, in this verse lies a universal principle of strength being realized through recognizing and embracing our weaknesses. Whitney’s weaknesses were thinly veiled, especially in the years following her marriage to Bobby Brown. While many are quick to point accusing fingers at Bobby or at the drugs both admittedly abused, Whitney put the blame squarely on her own self, claiming it was she who lacked strength. In Diane Sawyer’s 2002 interview of Whitney she asked “If you had to name the devil for you, the biggest devil among them?” “That would be me. It's my deciding; it's my heart; it's what I want, and what I don't want.” Whitney continued, “Nobody makes me do anything I don't want to do. It's my decision. So the biggest devil is me. I'm either my best friend or my worst enemy. And that's how I have to deal with it. I pray every day that I am strong. I'm not the strongest every day, but I'm not the weakest, either. And I won't break. And I won't break.” Seven years later in her 2009 Oprah asked, “Do you now know your own strength?” “I know from whence my help cometh. I do know that. And I know that it's strong within me. If ever I get low, I get weak, I know Oprah Winfrey Interviews Whitney Elizabeth Houston where I can turn to. I love the spirit of God so much that I'm not willing to trade that for anything. I'm not trading that for nothing. For nothing. Because I feel joy that I can't even speak about. And peace that passes all understanding.” 19

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“Because I know you can't get through this without God.” “I was by myself so much during those years in L.A., and I would just sit and I would read the Word and I would stop and I would think, ‘What do you want me to know?’ The Holy Spirit would speak to me and guide me. And I wouldn't know how I would get to this place or that place, or how I did this or how I was to go into the studio and sing again. But I did it.” Concerning her life, as her marriage to Bobby was disintegrating, Whitney told Oprah, “…I remember saying to God one day, I said, ‘Give me one day of strength.’ Because I was weak. I was so weak to [Bobby]. I was so weak to the love. I was, like: ‘This is love? What is this? What am I into?’” “Were you weak to him or were you weak to the drugs?” Oprah asked, “Because the world's perception is you were weak to the drugs.” “He was my drug. I didn't do anything without him. I wasn't getting high by myself. It was me and him together. You know, we were partners. And that's what my high was. Him. He and I being together. And whatever we did, we did together. No matter what, we did it together.” “Because you were his wife.” “Yes. And he was my husband. And I'm gonna make this happen and we're gonna make this work. And that's the way it was.” The song “I Look To You,” which was written by R. Kelly for Whitney’s 2009 album of the same title, was recognized by those close to her as Whitney’s heartfelt cry in the midst of her struggles. In the video version Whitney pointed skyward and was quoted as saying that the “You” represented the object and source of her faith. This heart-rending song was also sung by R. Kelly during Whitney’s Home going.

G

race

Just as Whitney wondered at times whether her musical and acting performances were good enough, many have wondered in the days since her death if she was good enough to make it into Heaven. I didn’t have to know Whitney personally to tell you with certainty that she wasn’t good enough. The Bible makes no exceptions when it tells us that “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23) Despite the spiritual side of Whitney Houston that I have tried to expose, despite all the mentions of angels and heaven so eloquently voiced at Whitney Houston’s service, we are well aware of her shortcomings. Drugs, domestic violence, excessive living, abusing the gift of her voice, wasting her fortune…Whitney’s sins are well documented. So all the talk about Whitney loving the Lord, and Jesus loving Whitney –what is it really worth at the end of the day? I am reminded of the story of the prodigal son –the son who asked for his inheritance early and then foolishly squandered his father’s fortune. Having been a church-going Christian my entire life, I have always indentified with the other son –the hard-working one who stayed close to home seeing to his father’s business. In fact, it was not long ago that I came to realize that the sins of the wayward son are not the story’s central 20

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message. The central message is the Father’s grace -grace that was too extravagant in the eyes of the elder brother, who refused to join in celebrating his derelict brother’s return. In the end only one son was reconciled to his father, and it’s not the one I expected. The wayward son was humbled by grace. The older son was angered by it. Fortunately for Whitney Houston and for the rest of us as well, our fitness for Heaven doesn’t depend on real or perceived goodness on our part. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…” (Titus 3:5) The elder brothers among us were cynical when Tyler Perry and Rev. Winans spoke of God’s love for Whitney –of angels escorting her to her heavenly father. They assumed these preachers were trying, as preachers often do, to rewrite the script that was her life, making a saint out of a sinner. Like Whitney, the younger brothers among us recognize just how far they have fallen from God’s grace. In their poverty they see their need. It is indeed sad that Whitney died before she had the opportunity to get her life turned around. When Diane Sawyer asked her to describe her perfect future life Whitney’s response was, “Retired. Sitting, looking at my daughter grow up. Become a great woman of God. Grandchildren.” If only her dreams had become reality; if only she had come back and finished strong, giving God the glory. The good news is that in spite of everything God is still glorified. What made Whitney God’s child and brought her home to Him on February 11, 2012 was nothing short of grace extended to an errant child –a child no different than most of us, except in the exposure of her sins and the extent to which she was scrutinized. Make no mistake –God wants us to finish strong. That is why Rev. Winans encouraged us to prioritize, to seek the kingdom of God first, before anything else in our lives. In Romans 6 Paul asks, “What shall we say then, are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Yet Paul discussed his own struggle with sin in the next chapter saying, “For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” “It is Ash Wednesday. And, as always, by the end of the day, that which I have set my face to do for Lent, I will have already failed to do. And that which I swore I would not do, I have already done. The cock will have crowed three times. The main sacrifice of Lent, for me, has always been the loss of spiritual pride and self-respect. I am incapable of keeping the promises I make to God. But my abject spiritual failure inevitably leads me to a deeper understanding of my need for grace. Which God gives freely.” – Ferguson Glen, character in Thin Blue Smoke Macmillan New Writing, 2009. Sharlyn Guthrie is a preschool teacher who spends part of each summer ministering in Uganda as the education and music director for Heart of God East Africa. She is an award winning Christian writer who enjoys traveling, cooking, gardening, and spending time with her family. 21

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J

oy

“I know from whence my help cometh. I do know that. And I know that it's strong within me. If ever I get low, I get weak, I know where I can turn to. I love the spirit of God so much that I'm not willing to trade that for anything. I'm not trading that for nothing. For nothing. Because I feel joy that I can't even speak about. And peace that passes all understanding.

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T

riumph

Many news reports and headlines referred to Whitney Houston’s death as “A Tragic End.” But death was not the end for Whitney Houston.

On Saturday, February 18, 2012 Cissy Houston “brought the world to church” for her daughter’s home going. Before a crowd of family and celebrities, with thousands of viewers around the world watching on television,

New Hope Baptist Church held a celebration. Instead of a dirge, white robed choir members joyfully clapped their hands and raised their voices singing, “And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever and ever...” The faces of those choir members lit up the sanctuary, and they sang like there was no greater truth in the world –because there isn’t. Death, sorrow, and sin lost the battle, and only the light of God’s love and grace shone through. It was a day of victory, a day of rejoicing both in Heaven and on earth. It was as if we finally caught a glimpse of the prism through the eyes of her creator, and it was more exquisite than anyone ever dreamed. The end was triumphant, not tragic. Whitney was finally home, and for her it was only the beginning.

W

hitney Houston, farewell to a great legendary singer and women of God. The Bible say, that if you call on the name of the Lord, you shall be saved (Romans 10:9-13) Whitney made it clear that she loved the Lord, and went home to Glory!

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Lyrics of “I Look to You”: I Look To You by R. Kelly (As sung by Whitney Houston) As I lay me down Heaven hear me now I’m lost without a cause After giving it my all Winter storms have come And darkened my sun After all that I’ve been through Who on earth can I turn to? Chorus: I look to you, I look to you After all my strength is gone In you I can be strong I look to you, I look to you And when melodies are gone In you I hear a song I look to you 'bout to lose my breath There's no more fighting left Sinking to rise no more Searching for that open door And every road that I've taken Led to my regret And I don't know if I'm gonna make it Nothing to do but lift my head

FROM TRAGEDY TO

Chorus: My levees are broken My walls are coming down on me My rain is falling, defeat is calling I need you to set me free Take me far away from the battle I need you Shine on me!

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WHITNEY HOUSTON

TRIUMPH

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Lyrics of “Home” By Charlie Smalls When I think of home I think of a place where there's love overflowing; I wish I was home, I wish I was back there, with the things I've been knowing. Wind that makes the tall trees bend into leaning, Suddenly the snowflakes that fall have a meaning. Sprinkling the scene, makes it all clean. Maybe there’s a chance for me to go back now that I have some direction; It sure would be nice to be back home, Where there's love and affection. And just maybe I can convince time to slow up. Giving me enough time in my life to grow up; Time, please be my friend, and let me start again ...Suddenly my world is gonna change its face but I still know where I'm going; I have had my mind spun around and around In space and yet I've watched it growing. Oh, I know you're listening Lord, so wont you please don't make it hard. I know I shouldn't believe everything, Everything, the things we see. Tell me, should I try and stay or maybe I should run away Would it be better, better just to let things be? Living here in this brand-new world might be a fantasy; yes it might be But it taught me to love, So I know that it's real, its real, real to me... And I've learned that we must look inside our hearts to find... Yeah we gotta find a world full of love like yours, like mine-Like Home

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HITNEY 2012

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HOUSTON 1963

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The Blind Escape By Emmanuel Obu

T

he captor sat opposite the hostage prodding him with threatening questions, right there in the middle of the fearful bush, and the mind of the hostage raced with many thoughts as he sat on the floor, littered with dry leaves. With his hands tied to his back and his face covered with a hood, he kept wondering if he will ever get out of this hostage and locate the way out of the bush. Just how would I? He thought. Then suddenly there were sounds and strange noises coming from somewhere within the bush. The captor in panic, stood up to go either in search of what that could be or in a bid to run away and escape from an unknown attack or arrest. The hostage in excitement and desperation suddenly shrugged up from the grassy floor littered with broken tree stems and dry leave petals. While in a haste to escape, he stumbled on shrubs around him and crashed into towering trees he could not see, because he had a hood over his face. He got up, still very desperate to escape but without knowing any direction or see at all, in the dense bushy mangrove – his face was still covered with the captors hood and his hands still tied behind him. He made desperate attempts, upon attempts to just keep moving but he will stumble and topple over severally. In another thought he stopped, seeing he had dissipated so much energy without progress and time maybe running out on him because he didn’t know if the captor was coming back to get him into hostage! His greatest handicap now was the covering over his eyes – if only he could see a direction, then he will follow it. He thought, putting his whole being to action, and said “I will be calm and not run crazily any more. I will engage my inner senses. I will move now with my imagination and deep perception of where I feel is the direction and then just a little bit gently, so I don’t stumble and topple over. My legs will be my guide – I will stretch them forward to feel what is ahead. I may be lucky to escape.” Within all these, there was still a deep sense of anxiety, pressure and desperation to get out of the woods quickly. But he was bound to move very slowly, the most vital aid he needed to be fast were his eyes – they were still covered. After his resolve to use inner senses, imagination, perception and his leg to feel his way through, for obstacles, he made very little progress towards an unknown direction. He got tired of his effort and decided to sit at the foot of a tree with very low thorny branches. Just then warm tears rolled down his cheeks behind the hood! He remembered he had once heard a gospel sermon in one Sunday service he attended where the preacher repeatedly spoke these words from the scripture “where there is no vision, the people perish…..”(Proverbs 29:18). He now could clearly relate with this truth – his inability to see right now could make him perish! And a surge brewed from within him to call on God and asked for help; he couldn’t see, and was hands bound. 28

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covering his head to his neck got stuck, from the top of his head to the side, on a low thorny branch of the tree he didn’t see. Immediately he noticed his hood was stuck, he began to pull his head hard from the branch in attempt to yank off the hood. Just like a miracle the hood tore open from the head to his neck and fell apart and his visibility came alive. With this, he lifted up his eyes and saw a direction that spoke to his heart to follow. With his hands still bound behind him but vision clear, he started to run towards the direction he was inspired to follow (when you see the vision, no matter the handicap, keep running towards it). Within a couple of twenty minutes distance, he began to approach what seemed like a flowing river and he increased his race towards the direction, hoping to find help of some sort. Getting to the river he saw a man in a boat who strangely came to fetch wood in this remote lonely bush. So he called out for help and the man in the boat heard and responded to him. He came down, cut the rope that bound his hands and rowed him across to desired destination. The once hostage, who now has freedom, wondered how he strangely got off the hood over his face, located the right direction and met the fair skinned, tall and handsome man at the right time, in an unbelievable location. He thought to himself and said “God how mysterious are your ways. We only just need to put across a call and you come racing down. Thank you once again!” Many are doing a blind escape in a world that holds them hostage with failure and backwardness; with evident lack of success, fulfillment, satisfaction, direction and poverty. They keep making attempts towards escape but are blind to direction. And so stumble severally without progress but with saddled limitations. Some have even used their self imagination, perception and well crafted self ambition but have made little progress to nowhere; just as the man in the hood, making a blind escape. Many have become very wise to call on God who created every man with a purpose to open their eyes and show the direction to follow to destiny. When you call on God, he will answer and open your eyes to catch the vision of direction to destiny (Jeremiah 33:3). When God opens your eyes and you catch the vision of your purpose, you will begin to run towards destination with progress. Effort becomes blissful and you will always meet help at the right time, along the way to go across - just like the man in the hood. Stop making a blind escape! What you need is vision for life and God is the only road map you need out. Discovering your purpose is the greatest discovery you can make. It is a vision driven discovery you need, to get life straight!

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Living Beyond Organic By Jordan Rubin

Founded in 2011 by Jordan and Nicki Rubin, Beyond Organic Foundation is a biblically based charity that finds its roots in James 1:27, which teaches that pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. Our mission is to provide physical, emotional and spiritual aid to people in need. We carry out this mission through partnership with churches, ministries and missionaries to feed, clothe, shelter and care for people around the world. As our primary initiative for 2012, Beyond Organic Foundation created The Widows and Orphans Fund. This fund was established to provide food, clothing and shelter to widows and orphans around the world by partnering with churches, ministries and missionaries in order to have the greatest impact on those we serve. Beyond Organic Foundation is an established Missouri corporation that is pending 501c3 approval. Upon final approval from the IRS, all donations to the Beyond Organic Foundation will be retroactively tax deductible. www.trylivingorganic.com

New York Times best-selling author and Founder of Beyond Organic, Jordan Rubin, has released his newest and most powerful book yet—Live Beyond Organic. A book that is sure to motivate and inspire you, as well as provide you with health and nutrition education, a daily eating plan, delicious recipes and other tools that will help you change your diet, change your life, and change your world.

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Since 1983, Mercy Ministries’ free-of-charge, voluntary Christian residential program has served a diverse population of young women from various socio-economic backgrounds, ages 13-28, who have been physically and sexually abused, including victims of sex trafficking, and those who face life-controlling issues such as addictions, eating disorders, self-harm, and unplanned pregnancy. Mercy Ministries of America has residential homes in Monroe, LA; Nashville, TN; St. Louis, MO; and Sacramento, CA. For more information on Mercy Ministries and its global affiliates, please visit http://www.mercyministries.com/ Urban Youth Impact (UYI) was founded in 1997 to make a positive impact on the lives of poverty-stricken inner-city youth living in the Tamarind Avenue corridor of West Palm Beach, FL. The area has notoriously high crime rates; 32% of youth living in the community are not expected to graduate from high school; over 50% live below the poverty level, and it is more likely that youth from this community will go to jail than graduate high school. Through its programs, UYI seeks to reverse troubling trends and fulfill its mission to love, equip and empower inner-city youth and their parents to fulfill their God-given purpose by offering programs designed to develop critical life skills that result in less juvenile crime, fewer teen pregnancies, less substance abuse, less child abuse/ domestic violence, and fewer school drop-outs. For more information on Urban Youth Impact, please visit http://www.urbanyouthimpact.com/.

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Oprah Winfrey interviews Whitney Houston's daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown BY LAUREN ZIMA, KGTV Oprah Winfrey aired her interview with Whitney Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, Sunday night. The OWN Network special marked Bobbi Kristina’s first interview since her mother’s death. KGTV has a clip. “I can sing her music, but to hear it right now. I can’t. I can hear her voice and spirit talking to me and telling me, ‘Keep moving, baby. I’m right here.’” Bobbi Kristina told Oprah she’s doing as well as one could hope. WBFF reports Oprah also sat down with Pat Houston, Whitney’s sister-in-law, manager and best friend. “Were you afraid that she would be gone too soon?” “If things hadn’t changed, but things were really changing with her.” There have been rumors Bobbi Kristina also suffers from substance abuse problems like her mother once did. That issue was not addressed in the interview, but the 19year-old did tell Oprah she plans to head down the same career path as her mother. “We’re gonna do the singing thing. We’re gonna do some acting, some dancing.” “Oh my god. That’s a lot of pressure for you, don’t you think?” “It’s a lot of pressure, but she prepared me for it.”

OPRAH EMBRACES BOBBI KRISTINA

Bobbi Kristina is now living with her Uncle Gary and Aunt Pat at Whitney’s Atlanta home. On WFLD, an anchor and panelist from TMZ analyze the interview, calling it both “chilling” and “telling.” “When Oprah asked if there was any resentment for people saying Bobbi Brown got Whitney hooked on drugs, and Bobbi Kristina said she didn’t know if that was true. It was a really telling interview, and like you said, very emotional as well.” Hollywood Life applauds Bobbi Kristina on speaking and maintaining her composure. http://www.hollywoodlife.com/2012/03/12/whitney-houston-bobbi-kristina-brown-oprahinterview/ But The Washington Post points out the interview didn’t deliver any major revelations, saying Winfrey asked generally easy questions. “Winfrey didn’t ask [Bobbi Kristina] more probing questions about her hospital stay shortly after her mother’s passing, or about her current relationship with her father, Bobby Brown. The talk show host treated her gently, perhaps because Pat Houston was the one who had been appointed to answer the really hard stuff.” Pat shed tears when talking about seeing Whitney’s body. Pat and her husband Gary, Whitney’s brother, also addressed Bobby Brown. Gary called him a “good guy,” and said he loved Bobby -- he just didn’t know if Bobby and Whitney were very good for each other. Finally, NBC’s Today Show has Bobbi Kristina describing her last day with her mother. “I went to go get her, and I said, ‘Mom, will you just come lay down with me?’ and I slept in her arms, all day. All night long.” In the interview, Bobbi Kristina did not address a TMZ report that she plans to change her last name from ‘Brown’ to ‘Houston.’

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Whitney Houston and Daughter Bobbi Kristina 33

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2012 Essence Music Festival Set for July 6-8 in New Orleans

By Sarah Hearn

T

he 2012 Essence Music Festival (EMF) will be held July 6-8 in New Orleans. Some of the biggest names in music will perform including the Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Fantasia, Stephanie Mills, Ledisi, Kindred the Family Soul, The Stylistics, Charlie Wilson and many more. There will be all-star gospel tribute to Fred Hammond and Mary Mary. Essence will also honor the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin with the Power Award during her performance. The Essence Empowerment Experience will showcase the country's leading thinkers, innovators, and communicators including Steve Harvey, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. Maxine Waters and Dr. Steve Perry. For information about ticket sales, accommodations and the latest news about EMF, visit www.essencemusicfestival.com. Follow EMF on Twitter @essencemusic #EssenceFest. Become a fan of the 2012 Essence Music Festival on Facebook. Fans can get a head start on memorabilia. Essence is offering official EMF merchandise including t-shirts, hats, bags and more. In honor of the 18th anniversary of EMF, shoppers will get 18% off orders March 19-April 6. Visit www.essencemusicfestival.com, the Essence Facebook page or call 877-687-4277. Sarah, DC Gospel Music Examiner has been a fan of gospel music since childhood. Her published interviews include Cece Winans, Fred Hammond, Richard Smallwood, AndraĂŠ Crouch, Martha Munizzi and Charles Butler. Her work has been cited in Cross Rhythms, EurWeb.com and other publications. Residing in the Metro DC area, Sarah leads the International Missions Team at her church and has traveled to Haiti, Nicaragua and Kenya. Sarah is a member of the Gospel Music Association (GMA) Contact Sarah. (This article was first printed on www.examiner.com

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COVER STORY

By Emmanuel Obu

F

rom an ugly past to great feats – the

story of Joyce Meyer, a rare gem who has blazed the trail from despair to great hope and fulfillment. As it is rightly said, when life throws lemon at you, make lemonade, and great people emerge when they use the bricks life throw at them to lay firm foundation. Joyce Meyer is a living proof that emerged from a life of mess to bringing a message of hope; to the hurting, hopeless and to those beaten down by low self-esteem from bitter past. Joyce Meyer was born Pauline Joyce Hutchison in South St. Louis in 1943. Her father was a soldier who fought in World War II. He soon started abusing her sexually at a young age after his return. She prayed for God to make her dad stop abusing her and he wouldn’t stop. She could not understand why she had to go through this either.

JOYCE MEYER

To further exacerbate the emotional impact of the abuse she experienced; after her senior year of high school, she married a part-time car salesman who she said cheated on her and persuaded her to steal payroll checks from her employer – though she later in the years paid this back. Joyce eventually suffered the pain of divorce due to the emotional abuse she experienced in her marriage to the salesman. And in a bid to get her life going she resorted to local bars. Joyce Meyer has been a woman of many battles. She suffered sexual abuse as a child, lived with the pain of an emotionally abusive marriage and from her battle with breast cancer to the struggles of everyday life; she speaks openly and practically about her experiences so others can apply what she learned to their lives. She was born again at the age of nine. However had a turning point in her life that has become a hope and blessing to many, and generations to come, when she heard God call her name while driving to work one morning in 1976 during a period of fervent prayers. She became drunk with the Spirit of God later that day after a beautiful meeting and could feel the thrill and joy of “liquid love” a love so real and tangible flow through her being. The weight of problems and unhappiness due to her ugly experiences had driven her to draw nearer to God. Joyce had deeply yearned for help, because she didn’t have any knowledge, didn’t go to church and had a lot of problems. But the in- filling by the Spirit of God and the flow of “liquid joy” within her was a settled assurance she had found the help she needed to go through life. She was eventually held by the hand and led through life by God’s sustaining grace. Continue on page 36

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She has greatly enriched and improved her life to match what she teaches about improving and enjoying life. She holds an earned PhD in theology from Life Christian University in Tampa, Florida; an honorary doctorate in divinity from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and an honorary doctorate in sacred theology from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. Her global ministry has as its goals, to help the hurting people, to alleviate human suffering and to help Christians grow in their faith. Time magazine selected her as one of the most influential evangelical leaders in America. Joyce Meyer is an incredible testimony of the dynamic, redeeming work of Jesus. She is greatly celebrated as a Christian role model and her efforts and reach to change lives from trash to treasure has been relentless. She was once asked how she handles regret, and this is what she said “I don’t live with regret at this stage of my life, but I have had to let go of things I didn’t understand at times and just trust God. I still do. “For example, when I was a young girl, praying for God to make my dad stop abusing me, and He didn’t, I didn’t understand why I had to go through it. But now that I can see how God is using what I went through to help so many other people have hope and believe they can be what God really created them to be, I am just glad that my pain from the past – which I don’t live with at all anymore – is making a huge difference in helping others get the healing and restoration they desperately need from God. I will always be incredibly amazed by God’s love and His power to completely restore anyone no matter what they’ve been through.” Joyce Meyer is a great woman of God, married to a humble man; Dave Meyer, an engineering draftsman. They have been married for over forty years since January 7, 1967, and they are parents of four grown children. Dave and Joyce Meyer make their home in St. Louis, Missouri.

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You Can Enjoy Your Life – Every Day!

Post date— 9-25-11 By Joyce Meyer

Are you enjoying the journey of your life? Think about it. The truth is, God wants you to enjoy your life every day. Did you know that? If you didn’t, or maybe you just aren’t sure whether God approves of people enjoying their lives, take a look at John 10:10. It says, “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)” (AMP). This is an absolutely amazing scripture because it clearly tells us that God doesn’t just want us to be alive, but He wants us to enjoy being alive. He wants us to live with joy – abundant, overflowing joy! My passion as a teacher of the Word of God is to help people learn how to live the life Jesus died to give us. That’s why we’ve titled our program “Enjoying Everyday Life.” And I’ve learned through my own experience that if you don’t have joy, then no matter what you have or what you do or how great your circumstances may be…it doesn’t mean much. So how do we get the joy of the Lord? Jesus tells us in John 15 that if we will abide in Him, we will experience God’s will for our lives, and everything Jesus has will be ours. Abiding means making Jesus the most important person in your life, living and remaining in Him, and making everything in life revolve around Him. That’s when we bear the fruit of a godly life. And that’s when God’s true joy is released in us. It’s easy to see that focusing on Jesus has so many benefits. For one, when we’re paying attention to Him, we won’t be focused on the problems in the world and we’ll be able to live with God’s peace and joy. Another benefit of living this way is that it keeps us from being continually stressed-out, living in survival mode and just getting through the day. Continue on page 39

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Continue from page 37 So many people have the mindset that they will be really happy and enjoy life when…when they go on vacation, when the kids are older, when they get higher on the ladder of success at work, when they get married… the list could go on and on. I can relate to this because there was a time when even though I really loved being in the ministry, I wasn’t enjoying the daily responsibilities and activities it involved. I had to learn to live in the moment and enjoy what God was doing in me and through me now, not when the conference was over or when I could go on vacation. I really want you to get this: God wants you to enjoy your life now, not when. I’m so thankful that we have the Holy Spirit, who lives in every believer in Jesus Christ. He is the Helper who gives us supernatural strength and anointing to live this ordinary, day-to-day life with the supernatural joy of the Lord. Nehemiah 8:10 says the joy of the Lord is our strength. And we need that strength every day. It’s important to understand what joy is. It’s not about entertaining yourself all the time, getting your way all the time or laughing all the time. Joy can be extreme hilarity or calm delight and everything in between! I’m a more serious person by nature, so the “calm delight” definition is usually my state of joy. But a good belly laugh is sometimes just what you need. The Bible says in Proverbs 17:22 (AMP) that “a happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing….” Interestingly, there have been studies done that show laughter has some exciting benefits: Laughter causes the release of endorphins, a chemical in the body that relieves pain and creates a sense of well-being. It’s able to raise your energy level, relieve tension and completely change your attitude. It increases antibodies and strengthens the immune system. And a good belly laugh causes you to inhale more oxygen and stimulates your heart and blood circulation. It’s equivalent to an internal aerobic exercise! No wonder the devil wants to steal our joy and get us discouraged, depressed and downtrodden. Remember that the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. But we don’t have to give in to him and lose our joy. Make a decision today to enjoy your life. If you’re too serious about everything, lighten up! Learn to laugh at yourself and the things that normally frustrate you. Remember that God loves you always. He knows everything about you and loves you anyway. We all have things about us and in our lives that need to change, but they will really only change when we’re abiding in Christ, living with the joy of the Lord. Continued on page 69

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axã Uxz|ÇÇ|Çzá By Joel Osteen

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e all love to see miraculous transformations. Whether it’s a sports team that goes from worst to first in a single season, a life-saving surgery for a child, a person that loses hundreds of pounds, or even the amazing home make-overs on TV, that takes a home in much need of TLC, and literally transforms it into a beautiful mansion — we all love the ending outcome of miraculous transformations. Anytime we want to have a change though, especially one that will make our lives better, it requires us to believe that it can happen. We have to make a choice to have hope. Most of us have found ourselves in a place where we were on the edge of loosing something very precious to seemingly everything. Whether you’ve lost your job, your mortgage is in risk of foreclosure, your relationships are struggling, or you or a loved one needs healing, I want to encourage you to never give up! It all begins with a choice; the choice to never give up. God always completes in us what He has started; His good work and good plan. (Phillippians 1:6). “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” I love the story of a man named Ira. His story is the perfect example of what happens when you never give up. By the time he was 12, both of his parents had died. He and his brothers had no choice but to take care of themselves. So they got jobs working at a ranch. Instead of losing everything, Ira received more than enough resources to bless his entire family and many more throughout his area. He provided jobs for people in need, built schools, children’s homes, Boy Scout camps, Salvation Army centers and developed a town that still exists today. I love this story because his life was suddenly transformed. Continue on page 41

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Continue from page 40—New Beginnings, by Joel Osteen

onrom page 39—New Beginnings, by Joel Osteen Now I’m not saying that you’re going to find oil on your property or instantly become a millionaire! But what I am saying is that no matter how dark things look, God can turn things around in a single moment. We all just enjoyed the changing of seasons, from winter to spring. Spring symbolizes new birth, a fresh start. No matter how cold and harsh your winter might have seemed, or even been, I want to encourage you to see your new fresh start in God. This spring, let this truth take root in your heart and mind: In a single moment, God can make all things new for you. It all starts with your mind and attitude. Even if you don’t physically see this change right now, God can transform your heart and thinking, giving you peace that the world can’t give you. It’s a sustaining peace. It’s hope. Hope carries you through as you wait for your completing moment. Ephesians 1:19–20 says: “I pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead...” (NLT) Think about it! The Bible says that God gives the same power that raised Jesus from the dead to those who believe Him.

He triumphed over every force of darkness, disease and destruction. And He’s promised to give this same victory to everyone who puts their trust in Him! God’s incredible power is available for you, but you have to do your part and believe in Him and by faith, receive what He is offering and persevere in your hope! When you face challenges and tough times, do you focus on the negative and begin to complain about how unfairly you are being treated? When you give in to those thoughts, you stop the transformation process. When you are filled with doubt and unbelief, God’s miracle for you is put on hold. And it stays on hold until you begin to walk again in obedience and put your complete trust in Him. When you stay positive, full of hope, and do not give up on God, He can take any situation in your life, any circumstance, regardless of the economy or what the world might say, and turn things around in a single moment for your benefit. Your life can change in a moment just like Ira’s and just like the disciples — who went from being alone and afraid to boldly proclaiming the message of Christ to every nation, making an impact on the entire world! 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “...anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (NLT) No matter what you are facing today, I want to encourage you... When you decide to not give up and put your whole trust in Christ, you pave the way for greater things to happen for you, in you and through you! 41

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We are all hearing the negative reports about the current economic conditions; I hear them too. But in order for us to overcome these challenges, it’s important to know what God’s Word says about it. His Word promises us in Philippians 4:19: “And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (AMP). God promises us that He is able to meet every need. Remember, no matter what challenges you’re facing, God will make all things new in your life! But it’s up to you and your choice! Keep choosing to stay in hope, believing for God to make things new, in His time. Remember, if we don’t give up, in due time we will be richly rewarded! JOEL OSTEEN Joel Osteen is pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas — a vibrant and diverse church that Forbes calls the largest and fastest-growing congregation in America. Joel shares a positive message of hope and encouragement that extends all around the world. This message reaches all across America and 100 nations of the world. Joel’s books, Your Best Life Now and Become a Better You, quickly became #1 New York Times Bestsellers and are distributed worldwide in several languages.

www.joelosteen.com

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NIGHT OF HOPE—JOEL OSTEEN NATIONALS PARK - WASHINGTON DC

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A NIGHT OF HOPE AT THE NATIONALS PARK, WASHNGTON DC

PASTOR JOEL OSTEEN

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COVER STORY BY LINDA TARDY

AMERICA’S NIGHT OF HOPE: FOR THE DESCENDANTS OF ABRAHAM

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ecause of Abrahams obedience to God; God told Abraham, “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, and as the sand on the seashore.” (Genesis 22:17) Like Abraham, Joel Osteen obeyed God. As a result of his obedience, he now stands before tens of thousands of people spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world, which is an assignment given to him by God. We as Christians who believe by faith through Jesus Christ are the descendants of Abraham, and heirs according to the promises of God (Galatians 3:29) April 29, 2012 was a glorious time in the Lord! America's Night of Hope turned into a spirit-filled church service. As more than 40,000 people filled the seats at the Nationals Park, Washington, D.C. “as numerous as the stars in the sky,” with a seating capacity of 41,500; people came out to hear the word of the Lord spoken by Joel Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, the largest church in America. The crowd stood in unity with their hands raised in praise on one accord, worshiping our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. The 150 member choir sang with their anointed voices the song, “I am a friend of God’s,” and various other songs of praise; the crowd danced and sang along, clapping with joyful praises unto the Lord. As Joel Osteen opened with prayer, the crowd bowed their heads, a moment of peace and unity. Joel & Victoria Osteen brought forth a powerful word to the crowd: Osteen started by saying, “God is detailed, strategic and precise. He knows your setbacks and plans your comeback. You have seeds of greatness on the inside of you, declares Joel Osteen."The crowd went into an uproar of praise! Clapping, shouting and kneeling on their knees with their hands and faces raised to the sky. “What God has purposed for your life shall come to pass,” said Joel Osteen. What a blessed time in the Lord! There were over 100 pastors, local and from around the country who came along with Joel Osteen, each pastor spoke a word to the crowd. The son and daughter of Joel Osteen also performed, using their gifts and talents to bless the crowd, Jonathan Osteen. playing the electric guitar while his sister, Alexandra sings. Joel Osteen is a New York Times best selling author. His television program is seen in over 10 million households in the United States, and view by more than 100 nations. His church congregation meets at what use to be a sports arena, and once the home of the Houston Rockets professional basketball team, it has a seating capacity of 16,000. Joel Osteen is referred to by many as the voice of hope. While here in the Washington area Joel Osteen & Victoria brought with them volunteers who had the opportunity to bless a facility called, “Capitol Hill Crisis Pregnancy Center. The volunteers folded baby clothes, painted and prepared brochures. Joel Osteen also delivered prayers in the US House & Senate

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At America’s Night of Hope Joel Osteen declared that “What God blesses, no man can curse.” As the crowd cheer on, fireworks were released above the crowds head in the sky, the helicopters and planes flew above the large sports arena to capture an aerial vision of the event. Excitement poured from the hearts of the people, hallelujah! Bless the Lord! Praise God, shouted the crowd as they raised their hands in praise. What a glorious time in the Lord! The service ended with Joel Osteen’s daughter, Alexandria singing and capturing the heart of the people. God strategically prepared this event for his people. It was a divine setup. It was originally supposed to have taken place on Saturday, April 28, 2012. But God sent down the rain and He Had another plan for his people, and that plan was to setup a glorious church service of over 40,000 people on Sunday, April 29, 2012. The Bible says, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” (Proverbs 19:21 NIV) Joel Osteen was absolutely right! God is precise, strategic and detailed. Bless the Lord!

_____________________________________________________________________________________ Linda C Tardy is the President of Visionary Ministries, Vision House Publishers, and Visions Christian Magazine, born in Washington, DC, and lives in Upper Marlboro, Maryland Author/Publisher of five books, and 12 periodicals. Current student at ORU (Oral Roberts University) Communications/Arts and Ministry/Leader.

Personal note: I thank God for blessing me to be apart of such a glorious worship service. I looked around me at the Nationals Park, Washington, DC and I saw the glory of the Lord. God showed me how he blesses those who are obedient to carry out his assignment in the earth; and spread his gospel around the world. I was blessed to have the opportunity to report on this story, and to have been there to witness such a greater crowd of witnesses, and the children of the most high God in praise. God is faithful. It is truly amazing how he wants to bless us, and show us a good time. I was honored and grateful to a good friend, who gave me a free ticket to the event. I received the ticket shortly after attending my home church services, at Joel Peebles Ministries. So this event was an extended church service for me on Sunday evening. I am humbled and honored to my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ for strategically and divinely setting me up for a blessed time in the Lord. As Pastor Joel Osteen said, “God is detailed and precise. He is the planner and organizer of my heart. God is bringing forth his promises to his people. The bible says to those who are believers, “All nations shall be blessed through you.”( Galatians 3:8)

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America’s Night of Hope, Nationals Park—Washington DC

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Leaving a Legacy of Faith by Victoria Osteen

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verything we do produces a seed and leaves something for future generations. You may not feel as though you are making a difference, but God says with your good life, you are having an influence. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.” Notice, it doesn’t say that people will hear your words; He said they are going to observe your life. I can tell my children all day long how they are supposed to act and tell them what they are supposed to do, but the truth is, they are going to do what they see me doing. When they grow up, they are going to model their relationships after what they experience, and that’s why it’s so important to live as a positive example before our children. We paint a picture with our lifestyle, and our children put their own frame around it. Paint a picture that your children will be proud to frame! Some people today have a frame, but no picture for their life. If that’s you, you can create vision and purpose in your home, and paint a new picture to be passed down in your family for years to come. Recognize that you are not only investing in your own children, you are investing in your children’s children and their children through your example. When we recognize our importance, we are laying stepping stones for future generations. You can leave that legacy of faith. The Apostle Paul was talking to young Timothy, a young man who did great things for God. Paul said, “Timothy, I can see the faith of your Mother Eunice and your Grandmother Lois in you.” Timothy’s strong faith came through the influence of his mother and grandmother. But those women made an investment that had such an impact in Timothy’s life that Paul not only recognized it, but he recorded it in writing, and his words encourage and inspire us today. Maybe you don’t have any children of your own, but perhaps there are other children in your life. Tell your nieces and nephews that they are important. Tell your friend’s children that they are important. Maybe you have “grown up” children in your life who need your deposit of faith and encouragement. Invest in those around you, because you are making a lasting impact for generations to come.

www.victoriaosteen.com In Daily Readings from Love Your Life, Victoria offers a guide to help you transform your life and love it more! Each reading offers insight, scriptures, stories and uplifting messages focusing on the themes found in the best-selling book, Love Your Life.

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JOEL & VICTORIA OSTEEN

COMING TO WASHINGTON DC

AMERICA’S JOEL & VICTORIA OSTEEN

NIGHTOF HOPE

with

Joel & Victoria

Osteen will be coming to Washington, D.C. and other areas. Albany, NY Friday, March 16Times Union Center Washington, DC Saturday, April 28 National's Park Birmingham, AL Friday, May 18Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) Denver, CO Friday, June 1Pepsi Center Jacksonville, FL Friday, November 30 Los Angeles, CA Friday, October 26 Okla. City, OK Friday, September 28 Kansas City, MO Friday, September 21 Puerto Rico, PR Friday, August 10 Cleveland, OH Friday, July 13

Lisa Osteen Comes openly shares painful and personal stories including heartbreak, loss, and failure, in addition to her recollections of being a young woman and facing debilitating stereotypes. Her book even describes the agony and humility she encountered when her marriage unexpectedly

WWW.LISACOMES.COM

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Zone 8 Street Thug to Prison to Community Activist By Marci Savage

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he Civil Rights Movement has evolved. It was born long before the 60’s, but the more recent leaders we remember are Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks. The leaders in these movements are our fathers, mothers, grandmothers, and grandfathers. Their work has left an indelible mark on our society. The need to fight for civil rights has not diminished. Detroit has a need for strong leadership in its neighborhoods. A revolution is happening in its streets, and the next generation has taken up the mantle of responsibility and is tackling the issues of poverty, illiteracy, education, incarceration and the deterioration of the neighborhood. Yusef Bunchy Shakur is a community activist who runs Urban Network located on Grand River in Detroit right off of I-94. Walking in the door of the brightly painted yellow building, it is warm and inviting. It is a safe place for the community, especially the youth, to hang out, have some food, and maybe watch some TV or read while sitting on one of the comfortable leather couches in the lounge. It also doubles as a bookstore and library. The wall is full of books that kids don’t typically have access to in school giving them unprecedented access to their culture. In another corner, there are computers set up for access to the Internet, yet another important tool (Continued on page 51)

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(Continued from page 50)

up for access to the Internet, yet another important tool that many in the community don’t have day-to-day. Each area is carefully thought out and utilized to its maximum potential. There are also outreach programs done by Urban Network, such as “Restoring the Neighbor Back to the Hood Family Fun Day: School Supply Give Away” which this year provided over 500 backpacks to area youth, up from 250 backpacks the previous year. There is live entertainment, free food, and prize giveaways. But the most important component is to provide a safe and drama-free environment for people to act neighborly. It wasn’t until I talked with Yusef and read his book that I understood his deep commitment to the community. Yusef was born Joseph “JoJo” Lee Ruffin. His parents were teenagers and he ended up being raised in a single parent household. With no adequate father figure, he was running the streets. “I was an angry hurtful kid who used fighting as a form of therapy. By 13 I had co-founded the notorious street gang, Zone 8 and by 15 I had been kicked out of every public school in the area.”

www.yusefshakur.org

His lifestyle, or “death” style as he termed it, led him to be convicted for a crime he did not commit and he was sent to prison. “It was there that I met my father for the first time.” His father had been sent to prison several years ago. In his book he writes, “During my time with my father, he became my brother, teacher, comrade and mentor through stimulating a meaningful father and son relationship.” His father took the opportunity to guide him onto a path that would lead him to become a strong man and a leader, and not more hardened by his experience. After nine years in prison, he emerged as Yusef Bunchy Shakur and returned back to the neighborhood he used to terrorize in his youth. While he was in prison, his first son was born. He knew that he had to do everything in his power to ensure that his son would not follow the same path that he and his father had. He continued to develop his skills. He became a community organizer, Head Start teacher, youth mentor, business owner, author, motivational speaker, and a college graduate. When you meet him he is a large soft-spoken man. Watching him give a speech, he transforms into a passionate, fiery and bold orator. He believes strongly in what he is saying, and believes strongly in his community

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His experiences gave him a far different perspective, insight and authenticity as to how to approach problems. It’s that thoughtful reflection and analysis that makes Yusef so remarkable. The rolling-up of his sleeves and following through on his vision is what makes him more than that. This is a person who has overcome great adversity and has not allowed it to make him hard and bitter, but allowed it to transform him into a strong warrior and leader in his community. Yusef has learned how to shine, and by doing so he is showing other young men in his community that they can shine too. From his words to his actions, he is following his heart by letting others know his story. “I wrote from my heart. I wanted people to travel my journey from the beginning, from JoJo to Yusef. I let honesty be my guide.” In Yusef’s book there is a quote from Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

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A Mission and Passion for service: Helps Homeless Women in Boston

by Susan Holaday – (Leadership) BOSTON - Sharon Reilly grew up on a sharecropper's farm in Mississippi in the '50s and '60s, developing a passion for social justice that over the years, drove her from the corporate world in Arkansas to Boston in 2003, bringing with her skills that came from years in higher education and Fortune 500 companies.

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oday, she serves as executive director of the Women's Lunch Place, a shelter providing meals and numerous services ranging from legal, social, educational and healthcare for homeless women in need of healthy, nutrititious meals and a hand to help them along the way. Originally, WLP was founded in 1982 by two women who'd met as volunteers at the South End homeless shelter, Pine Street Inn. It quickly met a need as the homeless population grew, in part due to changes in the state's handling of mental health patients. Open six days a week, it offered nutritious, wholesome meals to homeless women and their children in space in the basement of Church of the Covenant. The first meal was served to a dozen women on Nov. 15, 1982 and meals were offered three days a week. By '84, a fourth day of service was added with a fifth following in '86. By 1996, WLP was operating six days a week.

SHARON REILLY

In 1992, a former homeless woman was hired to provide advocacy services to the homeless guests, a program which developed quickly into an Advocacy and Legal Assistance Program. By 2005, a full time cook was hired and today, the program offers services to more than 150 women and children. This year, Reilly spearheaded an effort that raised $3 million to renovate the space, adding a medical suite where women can talk privately with physicians about health issues. The goal is to extend hours of service. The expansion enabled the creation of a new Creative Expressions room, a Resource Center and more ways to help WLP's guests.

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"When I invited the board of Women's Lunch Place to embark on a capital campaign," Reilly recalls, "I told them we had this window of opportunity to move the needle in our industry and that a renovated facility would help us do that. I believe that in the area of food and nutrition, we are ahead on so many fronts. In program evaluation, we are in a lead position evaluating the impact of our work in the lives of women and especially, senior women, in a population that is not well represented and yet makes up a large segment of our total population. We've made it our business to support women who are poor and homeless and we do it without a lot of red tape." WLP, she adds, took a dingy basement and transformed it into a modern home for women and children. "That allowed us to meet unmet needs in a number of key areas that are linked to the quality of life. We added an additional shower, so more women can take showers and minimize public health risks. We added another washer/dryer to give them access to clean clothes. We expanded the nap room to give them more rest during the day; and our resource center was expanded to help them rethread their lives. We have more emphasis on jobs services and skills building. We realize that when women are stabilized, families tend to stabilize as well." "We are providing basic services in a sluggish economy at a time when more and more women are utilizing our services. The balance is off, and yet without the services and supports that we provide, the outcome would be devastating for even more women." our resource center was expanded to help them rethread their lives. We have more emphasis on jobs services and skills building. We realize that when women are stabilized, families tend to stabilize as well." "We are providing basic services in a sluggish economy at a time when more and more women are utilizing our services. The balance is off, and yet without the services and supports that we provide, the outcome would be devastating for even more women."

When Christians Drink by Dr. Ken Matto

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here is a mode of thought which pervades the Christian mind and that is the error of believing that Christian Liberty is the same as the freedom to sin. This happens when supposed Christians buy into the worldly philosophy of egoistic hedonism which teaches that happiness is the goal of all conduct. This is brought about by churches which teach personal euphoria rather than sound obedience to God’s Word. I would also like to include those Christians who smoke. I have already written a monograph on Christian Liberty and we all know the degenerating effects alcohol and tobacco have on our bodies so therefore I am not going to dwell on this aspect. I am going to dwell on the witness aspect of concession with the world. Recently a person e-mailed me and vehemently disagreed with another article I had on my web site concerning drinking alcohol. He was thoroughly convinced he could have a Budweiser in one hand and a Bible in the other, and still proclaim he was a Christian. If this person was standing on the corner with a few friends drinking beer and you saw them, how would you distinguish who was the 54

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Christian and who wasn’t? Let me tell you how you would know. The Christian would be the one bowing his head and giving thanks for the beer. (Just Kidding) Whenever a Christian partakes in any worldly pleasure such as drinking or smoking, it definitely affects their testimony. Now I am not speaking of worldly pleasures such as vacations, enjoying the beach or mountains, or just going to the park. I am thoroughly convinced the Lord has given us those things to allow us to take a break from the fast pace of the world. These things can be enjoyed without them doing any physical harm to our bodies, in fact, they can help rejuvenate us. Here are some facts taken from the Encyclopedia Brittanica about Ethyl Alcohol which is the chief ingredient of all alcoholic drinks. It is anything but good for the body. Poison ingested in any amount or form in the human body does not help it but always has a degenerating effect. Ethyl Alcohol Ethyl Alcohol also called Ethanol, Grain Alcohol, or Alcohol, the most important member of a class of organic compounds that are given the general name alcohols; its molecular formula is C2H5OH. It is the intoxicating ingredient of many beverages produced by fermentation. Pure ethanol is a colorless, flammable liquid (boiling point 78.5º C [173.3º F]) with an agreeable ethereal odour and a burning taste. Ethanol is toxic, affecting the central nervous system. Moderate amounts stimulate the mind and relax the muscles, but larger amounts impair coordination and judgment, finally producing coma and death. It is an addictive drug leading to alcoholism or drunkenness as the Bible calls it. We have briefly seen that even the encyclopedias report that Ethyl Alcohol is a toxin and no thinking person is ever going to try and convince themselves that toxins in any amount are good for the body, and this goes for both Christians and non-Christians alike. A person may choose to ignore this information but the fact remains Ethyl Alcohol is a poison to the body and no amount of ignorance can overcome reality. At this time I want to share 5 testimonies that we lose when we take up the mantle of worldly living. Internal Testimony Whenever we begin to walk with the world in even the slightest manner we lose the purity of our internal testimony. In other words, whenever we witness to an unbeliever or counsel a Christian we begin to feel like a 55

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hypocrite in that we are telling the unbeliever his sins will cast him into hell and we are partaking in the same sin he is. (Rom 2:21-22 KJV) Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? {22} Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? The Bible warns us about hypocritical witness. How can we counsel a Christian about the dangers of sin which we are partaking in ourselves. Just because we refuse to think of worldly compromise as sin, God deems any compromise with the world system as sin. (1 John 2:15-16 KJV) Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. {16} For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. This includes the ingestion of alcoholic beverage because it is of the world. Whenever we compromise our internal testimony it confuses us and you will have trouble knowing who you belong to. This is why so many Christians walk around wondering if they are saved or not. If Christians started stripping away their pet sins, their internal testimony will return in full confidence of who they belong to and then they will be able to witness in confidence.

External Testimony Another testimony we lose is our external testimony in that others see us and we lose our testimony to them. How can we go to others and say we are Christians when we are partaking in a worldly concession. Every Christians has a responsibility to other Christians. Billy Graham has lost his external testimony when he had his picture taken with the Pope. Jimmy Swaggart lost his testimony when he was exposed concerning the prostitute. Jim Baker lost his testimony when his cloaked lifestyle with Jessica was exposed. Jerry Falwell lost his testimony when he courted the Sodomites. Some of these men may not be saved but their testimony to the world was that they are Christians and as a result of compromise they have lost their testimony. The world now sees Christians as a pack of frauds. You see when one Christian is exposed for wrong it affects every single believer because the world lumps us together as one entity. Your testimony to other Christians works in the same way. (1 Cor 8:9-13 KJV) But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak. {10} For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; {11} And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? {12} But when ye sin so against 56

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the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. {13} Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. Here Paul is stating to the Corinthians that just because they are freed from keeping the requirements of the law, they have a solemn responsibility to other believers, especially new Christians who can easily be thrown off course by observing the actions of those who are supposed to know better. The Bible in these passages teach us that if another Christian can stumble in their beliefs because of a wrong or questionable action on my part, then it is best not to partake. Those Christians who like to drink or smoke in front of others are in essence saying they don’t care about others. They just want to have their own pet sins. Their attitude is that it is no one’s business what I do. Your actions are affecting other Christians and you are responsible for your actions especially when they confuse and possibly draw another Christian into your sin. Preachers who drink alcohol and then teach the congregation that it is okay and that they are exercising Christian liberty are nothing more than vipers in the pulpit. Actually I like to refer to them as Pulpit Prostitutes. Isn’t it interesting that a man or woman can be arrested for selling their body but the church promotes and gives raises and perks to those who sell out their testimony? Your external testimony is a very fragile thing and must be guarded so it is not tainted intentionally. How can a person who is holding on to the very sins which sent Christ to the cross teach the true gospel? He cannot, he must conform it to his own personal prejudices. (Mat 12:34 KJV) O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. (Rom 14:21 KJV) It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. God-ward Testimony Another testimony we lose is our God-ward testimony. It gives the idea that God accepts questionable behavior by His children. There are some denominations which believe that their clergy can forgive sins and be like a "Savior by proxy." The denomination I belonged to some years back believed by answering 4 questions at time of communion, the presiding minister could pronounce the remission of your sins. This is the attitude that carries over with some people when they become saved. The problem is that we represent the Lord Jesus Christ on this earth. I remember many years ago I was walking on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, NJ and I was handed a tract which I started reading. The tract stated that there was nothing wrong with having sex because God is the one who created it. They of course were not speaking of having sex in marriage but outside of marriage. I do not believe they were Christians but some kind of cult, yet that tract made an impression on me, because over 30 years later I remember it. People tend to remember the things that are not right with us rather than the things which are. (2 Cor 5:20 KJV) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

“Whenever we begin to adopt ideas that it is permissible to start drinking alcohol, then the world looks at us and begins to believe that God accepts sinful behavior. This is why it is dangerous to embrace an idea that it is okay to drink alcohol because people will think it is accepted by God.

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When a person sees a Christian with a beer, they will immediately think that God approves it.

“

The fact is that God commands His children to be holy which means to be separate. This means to be separated from the philosophies of the world which propel and set a person’s behavior. (Lev 20:7 KJV) Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God. (1 Pet 1:15-16 KJV) But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; {16} Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. The holiness of the Christian is to be set apart from the rest of the world which includes the ideas and the actions which are spawned from those ideas. God saves us with the express intent of bearing spiritual fruit not to

become entangled with the world from which were delivered from. Our responsibility as Christians is to please God and not to please the world. There is no way to hold a Bible in one hand and a Budweiser in the other and still be a holy testimony for Christ. (2 Tim 2:3-4 KJV) Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. {4} No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. Separation Testimony When a Christian begins to drink alcohol they are showing they are not separated. Many Christians wonder why God does not use them. God does not use a compromised Christian for the furtherance of His Kingdom. God only uses clean vessels. (Ezek 44:23 KJV) And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. 58

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In the Old Testament God expected His people to know the difference between the holy and profane and the clean and unclean. With the Bible we have that at our fingertips. When we drink, we are showing that we are not separated from the ways of the world and are not discerning the difference between the two. This is because we are hindering our obedience by justifying our pet sins. Where did we ever get the idea that Christ saved us so we can do what we want? (Prov 23:31 KJV) Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. Many Christians believe there are no Scriptures which prohibit the drinking of alcohol. Here is one which tells us that we should not even look upon the red wine in the cup. Looking comes before drinking. Alcoholic beverage is such a snare that God does not even want His children looking at it because He knows how strong temptation can be and how inadequate the flesh is in handling it. The object that distinguishes the real Christian from the false Christian is our separation from the world. Nowhere in Scripture are we to go back into the sins of the old nature. Alcohol is a sin of the old nature. (Rom 14:7-8 KJV) For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. {8} For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. (Rom 13:14 KJV) But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. Alcohol ministers to the flesh and does not minister to the spirit. Ask yourself the question, while you are drinking beer or whiskey, how much thought do you give to the things of the Lord? NONE, because you are too busy feeling a falsely induced euphoria.

BACK TO BASICS CHURCH MINISTRY In March, 2011, my wife, Linda and I embarked on a journey that seemed impossible except that we believed God. We were led by the Holy Spirit of God to raise funds through the foundation to send 100 homeless men and women on a 4 day / 3 night retreat in the mountains. After seven months of concerts, prayer breakfasts, and church partnerships from around the country; we were able to raise enough funds to send 80 men and women on the retreats. But just raising the money could not prepare us for the miraculous and inspiring work that the Lord did on both retreats. Forty homeless men went to the retreat in age ranging from 21 to 65. These men were in various states of drug addiction, depression, alcoholism, and all kinds of other illicit activities and sin. They came off the streets, under bridges, and in shelters and mental hospitals. Early in the morning, got cleaned up and boarded a bus for Blue Mountain Christian Retreat Center in New Ringgold, Pennsylvania and their lives wound never be the same. Stay tuned for a repeat real soon. Contact Pastor Milt & Reverend Linda Matthews (301) 772-7777, send your email to: Linda.matthews@btbmm.com, 59

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Identification Testimony The fifth testimony that you lose is your identification testimony. When you drink alcohol, people do not know of what Kingdom you are identified with. It is a shame when you have to tell someone you are a Christian because your actions prove otherwise. When you do this, what do you think goes through people’s minds when you stress you are a Christian and you are drinking alcohol? In their mind, you are one of them and there is no difference. This is why people feel comfortable in their false churches because they see God’s regenerated Christians doing the same thing, so they figure they are on the road to heaven when in reality they are on the way to hell. Losing one’s identification with the Kingdom of God is like losing one’s mental capacities. Summary Christians who drink alcohol carry ruined testimonies to the outside world and also to those in the church. One group I have not mentioned that is always hurt by poor testimonies are children. They tend to follow the parents in their training. Don’t you think it is confusing to a child to see Daddy or Mommy praying and then have a few beers or smokes? When the children begin to emulate this pattern for themselves, will the parents then beat them for learning their sinful ways? Ask yourself the following question the next time you pop a top or light up, "What spiritual benefit do I gain from this?"

FROM BONDAGE TO FREEDOM

Bo

ndage To Freedom, James Cooper, Steve Matthews, Irving Dillard, Alphonso Crawford and "Big" John Pace is a five member group of men who were addicted to drugs and alcohol. They were homeless, slept in abandon cars, under bridges and in abandon buildings. They boarded the Back To Basics Church bus one at a time and after hearing the word of God, they are now saved and singing for the Lord and addicted to Jesus. The CD is entitled, "ADDICTED" and was written and produced by Pastor Milt Matthews, (301) 7727777. 60

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TO CONFRONT OR NOT TO CONFRONT By Deborah Peques

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henever you are faced with an interpersonal conflict or a situation where someone is behaving in a way that is destructive to himself or others, you have to make three basic decisions: •

whether to confront

when to confront, and

the words to use

Perhaps you are asking, "Should I confront every offense?" Absolutely not! "A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense" (Proverbs 19:11 NIV). I believe the operative word in this passage is "an". In general, we would be wise to overlook the one-time insignificant slights, digs, and other annoyances that are a fact of everyday life. However, we cannot overlook a negative behavior pattern. Most people will chose to avoid a confrontation and in so doing, create even bigger relational and other problems. As always, the answer to life's problems can be found in the word of God. The Bible admonishes us to confront in three different situations: when we are offended, when we are the offender, and when a brother or sister engages in sinful, self-destructive, or unwise behavior In all three instances, we are commanded to take the initiative in dealing with the issue. Let us look at each one and see what the Scriptures says about them. When We Are Offended In Matthew 18:15, Jesus said, "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother" (NKJV). This is a clear admonition to confront the offender. In the subsequent verses, Jesus gave further instructions how to get others involved in the offending party does not listen to you. In this book, however, we will only focus dealing with personal, individual confrontations. Most Christians believe that it is a sign of humility and godliness to suffer silently when hurt or offended and to repress their anger. Repressing your anger or frustration is unwise. Every repressed emotion gets expressed somewhere. Some people will choose to eat too much; others may turn to alcohol or drug, while another may shop or become workaholics in order to work through the frustration of not confronting. The medical profession has many documented cases of illnesses rooted in resentment and unforgiveness. I sat with a woman at a Christian women's luncheon once who had suffered a stroke. When I asked her what had led to her condition, she said that she never spoke up when things bothered her. 61

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I have since interviewed a number of stroke victims and their responses are almost identical; they consistently buried their anger and never spoke up when hurt or offended. Paul admonished us to be on guard against bitterness: "See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many (Hebrews 12:15 NIV). Effective confrontation is by far one of the best safeguard against a root of bitterness. Bitterness is accumulated resentment; resentment is unresolved anger that has

been "re-sent" or repressed rather than being put on the table and dealt with through effective confrontation. In order for anything to take root, it must be underneath the surface. We can prevent anger from getting a stronghold on us by not allowing it to go underground. There are some people who have such low boiling points or so much repressed anger and frustration that they explode at the slightest provocation. I call this the "simmer and blow" syndrome. Obviously, this type of reaction does not fix the problem; in fact, it can make it worse. Christians who carry these emotions around become dysfunctional before they know it. Dysfunctional simply means that something is not functioning or working according to its original purpose. When We Are the Offender When we offend or become aware that we have offended another, it is our responsibility to actively work toward reconciliation. Jesus said, "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24). When we sense that someone has started to avoid us or we feel a strain in our relationship, it's time to take action. My husband and I often challenge each other to model our conviction that the person who is more spiritually mature is always the one who initiates the reconciliation. Spiritually and emotionally immature people wait for others to build bridges to them. When We Observe a Brother's Destructive Behavior You may find yourself in a situation when you have to confront someone, not because his behavior is negatively impacting you personally but rather having an undesirable effect on him or a group. The apostle Paul admonished the church at Galatia, "Dear brothers and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself" (Galatians 6:1). Most people gossip when they see a brother or sister overtaken in a fault or other ungodly behavior. Few confront. Now understand that Paul's admonition is directed to someone who is in a relationship with the one who needs to be confronted. This passage is not a license for legalistic Christians to force their man-made rules onto naive new converts. I have seen babes in Christ become turned off with the church because some unwise person confronted her about her outward appearance. Why not take the time to disciple such newcomers in the word of God and to minister to their other needs first? In other words, earn the right to be heard. Once you establish yourself as a non-judgmental and caring supporter, further admonition and correction of new converts may be unnecessary. Notwithstanding, regardless of a person's professed level of spiritual maturity, everyone is subject to falling into sin or unwise behavior. Therefore, when we see a brother or sister straying from the godly path it is our Christian obligation to "restore such a one". No one has 20-20 vision when looking at himself; we all have blind spots. It often takes someone with objective, spiritual eyes to shine the light on our blindness.

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W

hen confronting someone about his destructive behavior, you can expect excuses and defensiveness. No one really relishes the idea of coming to grips with his faults, weaknesses or shortcomings. It is a natural response to become defensive. *** Defensiveness helps us to protect ourselves against the pain of the truth.*** Expect it, and don't be turned off by it when you confront someone about his behavior. Job said, "How painful are honest words" (Job 6:25 NIV). Many will either blame others for their actions or try to justify them. Biblical "blamers" include Eve ("the serpent made me do it" (Genesis 3:13)), Aaron ("you know how wicked these people are" (Exodus 32:22), and countless others. Not everyone will respond as King David did when the prophet Nathan confronted him about sleeping with Bathsheba and then having her husband killed. He said, "I have sinned against the Lord. . ." (2 Samuel 12:13). Rejected Input I have shipped many packages from our local post office. After a few of them were returned, I began to see some similarities with how input can be rejected during a confrontation. The reasons that my postal packages have been returned were due primarily to insufficient postage, an improper address, or rejection by addressee. Let's take a brief look at the application of each of these reasons as they relate to confrontation. "Insufficient postage" is a result of not paying or investing enough to send the package. As previously mentioned, when giving feedback on someone's behavior-especially in a non-work environment-you need to earn the right to be heard. This means that you have invested enough in the relationship for the person to know that you have a genuine concern for their well being. An "improper address" is the result not addressing the person in a positive manner, that is, using the wrong tone, showing hostility, being judgmental, and any other approach that is deemed a turn-off. "Rejection by address" occurs when a person simply is not ready to receive your input due to psychological reasons or his unwillingness to face certain realities during this period of his life. When you get that "return to sender" notice, understand that it is outside your realm of influence. You've done your part. Pray for his receptivity to the truth and for God to send somebody across his path that he will hear and heed. Paul versus Peter: "Stop Your Hypocrisy!" Paul, a "Johnny-come-lately" disciple of our Lord, persecuted and had many Christians killed in the name of religion before he submitted to God's call on his life. Peter, on the other hand, had enjoyed a close personal relationship with Jesus during his time on earth. He was a key figure in the early church. Paul observed that Peter was engaging in behavior that was destructive to the church, so he confronted him. "But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him publicly, speaking strongly against what he was doing, for it was very wrong. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile Christians, who don't bother with circumcision. But afterward, when some Jewish friends of James came, Peter wouldn't eat with the Gentiles anymore because he was afraid of what these legalists would say. 63

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GMA Dove Awards honors the best in Christian and Gospel Music By Sarah Hearn

G

ospel music's top artists returned to Atlanta and the historic Fox Theater for the 43rd Annual Gospel Music Association Dove Awards. The event was spearheaded by a team led by new Executive Director Jackie Patillo and was filled with touching moments. It was evident that special care was given to providing a platform of wonderful performances of all genres of music that lift up the name of Jesus. This year marked the first time that the Doves had a red carpet. The artists seemed to really enjoy the opportunity to walk the red carpet, have their photos taken and speak with reporters. It added a nice touch to the event and many fans came out to cheer on their favorite artists and snap their photo. Chonda Pierce and David Mann brought their A-game comedy to the festivities as they served as cohosts of the event. Both hosts kept the audience laughing and had great comedic timing with one another. Newcomer Jamie-Grace won the Dove for New Artist of the Year. Everyone was happy for the college student’s win. Even the pressroom erupted in cheers at the announcement. She cried tears of joy, and said that she attended her prom at the Fox Theater just four years ago. Quite a journey for a young lady who was discovered by TobyMac last year and made it into Billboard’s Top 10 Christian chart with One Song At A Time.

Natalie Grant got her fifth win as Female Vocalist category. Laura Story took home the Dove for Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year for Blessings. The title track won both Song of the Year and Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song categories. She also revealed that she and her husband are expecting a baby girl in September. Jason Crabb took top honors as Male Vocalist and Artist of the Year and was the top nominee with eight nominations. Kirk Franklin scored big, getting the Dove for Contemporary Gospel Album for Hello Fear and “I Smile” won Contemporary Gospel Recorded Song. Lecrae won Rap/Hip-Hop Album of the Year. When asked if he was glad that he finally won the award in that category, he replied that awards are nice but that he is looking forward to the awards that will be laid at his feet in heaven. A tribute to legend Russ Taff featured performances by Jason Crabb, Wess Morgan and Donnie McClurkin who sang a medley of hits like "Ain't No Grave" and "We Will Stand." When Taff came backstage he spoke of the importance of redemption and restoration of fallen saints. He recalled how Bill Gaither and others in the music helped him get through a difficult time. It was a poignant lesson for those who are quick to toss aside those who stumble on their journey. Gospel legend Richard Smallwood won Traditional Album of the Year for Promises. Kim Burrell won Urban Recorded Song of the Year for Sweeter. Fred Jerkins III picked up a Dove for Urban Album of the Year for Deitrick Haddon’s Church on the Moon. The Dove Awards was well executed and there were so many wonderful performances, including a moving tribute to Whitney Houston by Yolanda Adams, Crystal Lewis, Karen Peck and Angie Stone. Musical Director Aaron Lindsey brought out the best in all of the performers in his first appearance in that role. Executive Director, Jackie Patillo has plans to continue to expand the Dove Awards brand, including adding pre-awards events next year. If the caliber of next years Awards is anything like this year, attendees will be in for a wonderful treat. Check out a few photos from the red carpet and backstage.

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Sarah Hearm. Gospel Music Examiner has been a fan of gospel music since childhood. Her published interviews include Cece Winans, Fred Hammond, Richard Smallwood, AndraĂŠ Crouch, Martha Munizzi and Charles Butler. Her work has been cited in Cross Rhythms, EurWeb.com, Visions Magazine and other publications. Residing in the Metro DC area, Sarah leads the International Missions Team at her church and has traveled to Haiti, Nicaragua and Kenya. Sarah is a member of the Gospel Music Association (GMA) Contact Sarah, shearn@gmail.com

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Then the other Jewish Christians followed Peter's hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was influenced to join them in their hypocrisy. When I saw that they were not following the truth of the Good News, I said to Peter in front of all the others, "Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you trying to make these Gentiles obey the Jewish laws you abandoned" (Galatians 2:11-14 NLT)? Paul knew that many followers emulate their leader. Therefore, a leader walking in error must be confronted. Now some have said that Paul was probably envious of Peter because of his status as an original disciple, but this was not so. Paul simply wanted to see Peter and the other leaders walk according to the truth of the gospel which declared that the circumcision laws were no longer in effect. There was now no difference between Jews and Gentiles. There was no need to prefer one group over the other. Paul's opposing Peter "to his face" is a clear definition of a confrontation, that is, coming together face to face. Since Peter's offence was public, Paul publicly rebuked him. If public rebukes were practiced more today, perhaps we would have fewer instances of ungodly leadership. Paul admonished us to confront any brother or sister overtaken in a fault. We are not to be intimidated by anyone's rank or background.

The Pegues Group P.O. Box 56382 Los angeles, CA 90056 (323) 293-5861 Fax (323) 293-6915

Deborah Smith Pegues: Bestselling author and international speaker, Deborah Smith Pegues, delivers sage advice on relational, financial, and emotional freedom for secular and religious audiences around the world. She is a high-energy, inspiring motivator, effectively incorporating humor and hard-hitting directness into her presentations to her never-bored listeners. Deborah has the unique ability to address readers across all social, racial, and economic strata. A prolific writer, her most popular book, upon 30 days of verbal abstinence from 30 lying, retaliating, etc. With sales in excess around the world. Emergency Prayers a the problem, has redefined what it means to the simple but powerful Scripture-based writes as a friendly boot camp sergeant and traps, personal spending plans, and much effective confrontation of interpersonal perament. Her latest book, 30 Days to most impactful books for taming stress, for a listing of other books authored by

30 Days to Taming the Tongue, challenges readers to embark negative uses of the tongue including complaining, gossiping, of 600,000 copies, this book has revolutionized conversations book of crisis prayers for those times when only God can solve “pray the Word�; many have reported miracles from praying prayers. In 30 Days to Taming Your Finances, Deborah guides readers through the maze of FICO scores, credit card more. Confronting Without Offending sets forth strategies for conflicts with special strategies based upon personality temTaming Your Emotions, is a consolidation of three of her wrong attitudes, and emotional insecurity. (See "Online Store" Deborah).

She has been the featured guest on numerprinciples set forth in her works. Repeat effectiveness of her writings and teaching.

ous radio and television talk shows to discuss the life-changing invitations as well as letters from around the world affirm the

A seasoned professional and astute busimajor corporations including ten years as capital division and three years as Manager dollar Space & Communications Division. ties, various non-profit organizations and prepared the initial financial projections for Theater chain.

nesswoman, Deborah has held executive positions in several Vice President of MCA INC. / Universal Studios' venture of Forecasting and Budgeting for Hughes Aircraft's billionShe has also served as financial consultant to several celebriemerging businesses domestically and in South Africa. She the development of the wildly successful Magic Johnson

A Certified Public Accountant with a Bachelor's degree in Accounting from the University of North Texas and an MBA degree in Finance from the University of Southern California, Deborah is also a Certified Behavioral Consultant. She specializes in helping people understand, accept, and appreciate personality differences. Deborah served for almost nine years as Chief Financial Officer of West Angeles Church, one of the leading mega-churches in the USA, headed by Bishop Charles Blake (presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ International). In connection with the construction of their $66-million landmark cathedral, she negotiated the largest financing commitment ever extended to a church in the United States at that time. She is in great demand to share her expertise on church financial management and leadership essentials. Her advice has appeared in Essence magazine, Charisma, Redbook, and other national publications. Deborah's community involvement has included serving on the Board of Directors of the Christian Entertainers Fellowship, Inc., an outreach organization for high profile entertainers, Save Africa's Children, Inc., Evangelical Christian Credit Union (ECCU), and special stints of sharing her wisdom with numerous other nonprofit organizations. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for World Vision USA, the billion-dollar Christian humanitarian organization that helps relieve poverty in over 100 countries. Respected community leaders have praised Deborah for her excellence, forthrightness and integrity. She and her husband, Darnell Pegues, have been happily married for 33 years; together, they conduct marriage enrichment seminars. They reside in California and have no children.

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Spiritual Authority By Watchman Nee

THE THRONE OF GOD ESTABLISHED UPON AUTHORITY An excerpt by Dr. Watchman Nee God’s works issue from God’s throne; God’s throne is established upon authority. All things have been created by the authority of God, and all laws on earth are held together through authority. Hence, the Bible says that God upholds all things by the word, which is of His authority (Heb. 1:3). It does not say that God upholds all things by His power. God’s authority represents God Himself; God’s power only represents God’s works. It is easy to be forgiven of sin against God’s power, but it is not that easy to be forgiven of sin against God’s authority, because sinning against God’s authority is sinning against God Himself. In the whole universe only God is authority. All other authorities are appointed by God. Nothing is greater than authority in the universe; nothing can surpass it. For this reason, if we want to serve God, we must know God’s authority. What is Spiritual Authority?

God places leaders in positions of authority. In other words, the leaders are appointed by God to give account for the souls of man. Our leaders are suppose to be on the same level where God is concerned ( no they are not God) but given the authority to carry out what God tells them to do.

ORDER THIS BOOK AT WWW.BARNESANDNOBLE.COM

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www.joycemeyer.org


Continue from page 37

As you go about your day today, make this your goal: Rejoice in the Lord! As the joy of the Lord gives you strength, you’ll be able to face any problems you have to deal with, and you’ll enjoy your life while you’re doing it! For more on this topic, order Joyce’s four-CD series Enjoying Everyday Life. You can also contact us to receive our free magazine, Enjoying Everyday Life, by calling (800) 727-9673 or visiting www.joycemeyer.org. Joyce Meyer is a New York Times bestselling author and founder of Joyce Meyer Ministries, Inc. She has authored nearly 90 books, including Battlefield of the Mind and Living Beyond Your Feelings (Hachette). She hosts the Enjoying Everyday Life radio and TV programs, which air on hundreds of stations worldwide. For more information, visit www.joycemeyer.org. Please note: The views and opinions expressed throughout this publication and/or website are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Joyce Meyer Ministries.

www.joycemeyer.org

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KINGDOM LIVING

New! Bill Winston Ministries www.joycemeyer.org

Dr. Leroy Thompson Ministries

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B O R N D I G I T A L Understanding the first generation of digital natives

About THE BOOK

The first generation of “Digital Natives” – children who were born into and raised in the digital world – are coming of age, and soon our world will be reshaped in their image. Our economy, our politics, our culture and even the shape of our family life will be forever transformed. But who are these Digital Natives? More

What is a DIGITAL NATIVE?

Born Digital is an initiative of the Digital Natives project, an interdisciplinary collaboration of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the Research Center for Information Law at the University of St. Gallen. The aim of the Digital Natives project is to understand and support young people as they grow up in a digital age.

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Visions Gospel Entertainment Edition  

Inside this Issue: Featuring Whitney Houston, Joel Osteen, and Joyce Meyer..

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